Tarpinian: Harlan’s Back!

By John King Tarpinian: After only one other public appearance in the past four years Harlan Ellison is back to his old irascible yet loveable self. The Silent Movie Theatre was a complete sell-out for his talk on November 15 – plus, at the last minute they announced a live web-cast which drew over 2,000 viewers.

The topic for the evening was billed as Harlan and his TV career but anybody who knows him knows that directing Harlan is like driving a Porsche on the Autobahn without a steering wheel, which is part of the fun. The host of the evening and a friend of Harlan’s was the Oscar nominated screenwriter Josh Olson.

Harlan had been reported in ill health the past few months, even he made mention of it by not attending his own Eaton Conference last February. But there was zero evidence of any ill health last night. He talked for over three hours with no let-up. However, he did only pick one fist-fight with a woman in the audience so maybe he is slowing down at bit at age 77…while also denying that he ever threw a fan down an elevator shaft.

Harlan talked about having written for Alfred Hitchcock, The Flying Nun, Ripcord, Outer Limits, Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Star Trek, and so on. Among the guests of Harlan was Arlene Martel who co-starred with Robert Culp in The Demon with the Glass Hand. He praised so many people he met over the years from Robert Culp to Norman Lloyd. He talked about his loving having written for Buster Keaton on an episode of Burke’s Law. And his having convinced Gloria Swanson to appear in an episode by climbing over her security fence and bluffing his way into having her butler give her his script.

After 11:00 p.m. he was still going strong and signing while kibitzing with those of us who stayed. He had first editions of many of his most famous books for people to purchase and he signed everything. Then it was off to Pink’s for a well deserved hot dog.

It is good to have him back in full force.

[Photos by John King Tarpinian.]

Arlene Martel and Harlan Ellison

Harlan gesturing.

Harlan hulking

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